Date of this Version
Great Plains Research Vol. 20 No. 2, 2010
This guidebook is a well-illustrated, well-bound addition to our growing series on Texas insect fauna. Designed for the beginner and nonspecialist (and suitable for use in schools), it provides an identification aid for recognition of the groups to which common insects belong. Other references must be used in most cases to determine the species at hand. Today, BugGuide.Net will be the next step for the average reader. Most of the book is devoted to one-page presentations of a small selection of families, usually those that contain species most likely to be found by the casual observer. Common name, group name, pronunciation guide, and characteristics are presented with a brief account of a selection of included insects, for which a generic or occasionally a specific name and two or more good illustrations are usually given. An introduction to insects, arachnids, and other arthropods, although essential, leaves only 154 pages for family presentations, and this is again reduced by a number of tables giving preferred habitat and feeding characteristics for common families of large orders like flies. No estimate is given for the number of insect species thought to occur in Texas, but the world figure given, 2 to 30 million, is suitably large and reflects the number yet to be discovered and described. Altogether but a tiny, tiny fraction of Texas insects is presented in this book. Unlike those lucky botanists, we entomologists have no fat manuals that cover all the insects of the state and therefore depend on consulting museum collections for precise identification.